63 Hankies, Dyeing and Wild Heather — Natural Dyes on Natural Surfaces

by - Thursday, March 30, 2023



We recently found out how Australian natural dyer Heather Thomas uses our organic cotton hankies in her dyeing practice. We were so impressed we asked if we could share it. You can find Heather on the web at her site  wildheather.com.au and follow her on instagram at @wildheather_australia.  Here's what she told us:

"I bought a 100 pack of Maiwa's handkerchiefs a year ago. I had the inspiration to use them as a way to display all the natural dye colours I have been obtaining. Over time I have dyed many pieces of cloth and yarn —all such lovely colours — but it's hard to put everything together to illustrate the beauty. 

"I saw Maiwa's hankies as a solution. They were a uniform shape, hemmed, and all from one type of cotton.  They would give me a way to focus on the shades and colours, without texture and size interfering!

"Here is how I worked:

- I scoured them all.

- I mordanted most of them with gallnut and then alum and soda ash. 

- A few I mordanted with just alum acetate.

- I dried them, so I had them on hand to add to dye pots as an additional extra when dyeing other things.

"Some I left un-mordanted, ready to dye in my natural indigo vats, (fructose or iron vats, mainly). Some of these indigo-dyed hankies I then mordanted with gallnut and the alum & soda recipe. As they only weigh 5 grams, I mostly left them overnight in the cold left-over gallnut pot and then the cold left-over alum/soda pot when I had one available. With these dried and stored, it was no effort to pop one into a hot dye pot next time I had one on the stove.
"That is how, over time, I have ended up with so many shades! There are 63 in that photo! — Heather"

Heather is a former student of the Maiwa Workshops. She is presently working and travelling to complete additional natural dye research, assisted by a Churchill Fellowship.

Thanks Heather, for sharing your process and tips.


Handkerchief Blanks: Singles, 12 Pack, 50 Pack, 100 Pack


Bandana Blanks: Singles, 12 Pack, 50 Pack, 100 Pack
Shown: Our blank bandanas dyed with combinations of pomegranate, cutch, cochineal, and iron.


Maiwa searches the world to find beautiful, organic cloth. Our blanks are designed to be platforms for your creativity and handwork. All are made of 100% natural fibres, most are handwoven and certified organic. Many are woven with hand-spun yarns making them a dream to work with. Garments are sewn with dyeable cotton threads. We are always adding to this collection.

Shown: Our blank bandanas dyed with indigo.


Registration for Maiwa School of Textiles workshops start on Monday.

For more information on natural dyes visit naturaldyes.ca.

To our U.S. customers – don't forget that the exchange rate works in your favour, it's like an extra discount.

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